Going into their Feb. 10 Division III sectional tournament match up with the Adena Lady Warriors, if you had told Peebles Lady Indians fans or Coach Vohn Hoop that their team would make just one second half field goal and still win the game by 20 points, most of them may have doubted your basketball sanity. So, to make up for sinking just one field goal in the second half, the Lady Indians dominated at the free throw line, hitting 22 of 27 attempts to easily handle the Lady Warriors by a final score of 48-28.
“We pride ourselves in shooting free throws,” said Coach Hoop in his post game radio interview. “We kept them off-balance all night and switched things up back and forth and once we got that lead into the fourth quarter, we just took the air out of the basketball.”
“This wasn’t a real good match up for us. We hadn’t handled pressure that well this year and tonight we struggled a little but we did a little better as the game went on. It’s no big secret that I play about six kids and I ask a lot of them and they give me a lot. I’m super proud of them.”
Played on the hardwood of Valley High School in Lucasville, the opening quarter of this first round sectional contest was a low-scoring one, with the Lady Indians getting a three-pointer from Jessica Sowards and a bucket in the paint from McKenzie Swango to grab an early advantage. Those same two combined for two free throws and another basket late in the period to leave Peebles on top 9-6 after eight minutes of play.
The second period began with Peebles’ Jerilin Toller getting an offensive rebound and score and after a three by the Lady Warriors, the Lady Indians scored eight straight, getting a Sowards steal and score, jumper from McKinlee Ryan, and four more from Swango to take a double digit lead at 19-9. A runner in the lane by Ryan and a long three-pointer from Sowards sent Peebles to the halftime locker room with a 24-12 lead.
Luckily for the Lady Indians, they had a cushion heading into the third quarter as they were plagued by turnovers and only managed four points, all by Sowards, in the entire period. With a golden opportunity to cut into the deficit, the Lady Warriors stumbled their way to just five points in the third quarter, leaving them still staring at a double digit Peebles lead, with the Lady Indians up 28-17.
After three quarters that had moved along rather swiftly, the final eight minutes of this contest were relegated to a snail’s pace, mostly due to the fact that the time was spent walking up and down the court with the clock stopped so the Lady Indians could shoot free throws, 24 of them total in the period. Not a single field goal went down for Peebles in the quarter, but they still racked up 20 points, all of them from the stripe, with Sowards hitting 9 of 10 and Baylee Justice, though suffering from a blow to the head earlier in the game, nailed 6 of 6.
With their prosperity at the stripe, the Lady Indians outscored Adena 20-11 in the fourth quarter to coast home with a 48-28 win, their 11th of the season and one which earned them a trip to the Division III sectional championship game.
In the win, Peebles was paced by Jessica Soward’s 23 points, 13 of those coming from the foul line. Freshman McKenzie Swango added 8, all in the first half, and Baylee Justice scored 6, all from the foul line in the final period. McKinlee Ryan chipped in 5 and Kaitlin Toller 4, with all of Toller’s points coming from the charity stripe, and all in the fourth quarter.
As a team, the Lady Indians were 26 of 31 from the line in the game.
“Tonight will put us at around 70% for the season from the foul line,” said Coach Hoop. “We put a lot of time in on our offense and taking care of the ball, and then shooting free throws.”
The win over Adena earned the Lady Indians the unenviable task of facing county rival North Adams in the Feb. 13 sectional title game at Valley. Look for a report on that match up in the Feb. 21 issue of The People’s Defender.
AHS 6 6 5 11 —28
PHS 9 15 4 20 —48
AHS (28): Luck 2 0-0 6, Lamb 1 0-0 2, Bossert 4 2-6 10, Shea 1 0-0 2, Putnam 2 4-4 8, Team 10 6-10 28.
PHS (48): J. Toller 1 0-0 2, K. Toller 0 4-6 4, Sowards 4 13-15 23, Justice 0 6-6 6, Ryan 2 1-2 5, Swango 3 2-2 8, Team 10 26-31 48.
AHS- Luck 2
PHS- Sowards 2